Angie Lucas's picture

Group Gift Albums for Milestone Birthdays

Group Gift Albums instructional video


This week on Books & Crafts, Wendy and I demonstrate how to put together a group gift album for a milestone event, like a parent's 60th or 70th birthday, your grandparents' 50th anniversary, or any other important milestone. Watch the video here.


This is hands down the most common question I get from readers of my personal blog who have seen the albums I coordinated for my grandma's 80th birthday, my grandpa's 80th birthday, and my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary. So I've also put together a detailed list of additional tips (above and beyond what you see in the video) that you can find on


Summer is a great time to plan ahead for an album like this. When we worked on my grandpa's 80th birthday album, we started it at the family reunion in June, even though his birthday is in late August.


Do you have any big milestone family events coming up?

Angie Lucas's picture

Inspiration for Your Weekend Crafting

This weekend is a great time to catch up on the latest fab projects from our Books & Crafts weekly web show!

Last week, we shared creative Name Displays for Kids' Rooms, including these cute decoupaged letter cans which contain tiny treasures that start with each letter of my daughter's name. As we're out and about this summer, I'm excited to keep an eye out for tiny things to collect for the cans. (Example: The "A" jar includes an Allosaurus, an apple, three aliens, and an alligator.)


This week, in "Crafty Framed Sentiments," Wendy shares framed sentiments (like "Love at Home") using leftover gamepiece letters, scrabble tiles, and more. A quick and easy (but meaningful!) project for summer.


And, as always, we hope you'll love our weekly book picks!


June Take Twelve Roundup

Welcome to the June Take Twelve Roundup!


School is out where I live, which means we've settled into new summer routines—amazing what a difference that makes in the schedule! Summer used to be a little slower-paced in my house, but with three active girls, the summer days already seem to be a mix of activities, play, friends, and sweaty little heads from morning 'til dusk.


Last month I focused on my youngest daughter's birthday party for my Take Twelve photos, but this month it was back to capturing the everyday—I really love the glimpse the Take Twelve photography project provides. I switched gears a little and made a digital page this month (mostly because my craft table is an absolute disaster, partly caused by the supply of tape runner I stocked up on in photo #2.) Does anyone else go digital because of a paper mess?

Read more about my photos here.

Take Twelve Team Member Monica Bradford had a special day to capture this month: a week long church camp called Reunion that her family attends every year. As much fun as it is to see the ordinary moments collected for Take Twelve, it's kind of exciting when a special event falls on the 12th, too! Monica was inspired by a layout Maggie Holmes created for a Studio Calico challenge.

Read more about Monica's layout here.

Margie Scarpignato is in the midst of an international move but still found time to put together a layout about a favorite recipe she used to create teacher gifts at the end of the school year. I love scrapbook pages about recipes; few things provide us the tangible connection to our ancestors as having one of their recipes that can actually be recreated exactly as it was in a kitchen of the past. What a great way to knock out twelve photos at such a busy time in Margie's life, too!

Read more about Margie's layout here.

Team member Van Nguyen is dealing with a difficult time—her husband's current training and impending deployment—so the everyday nature of her photos this month is even more important. Her desire to protect the ordinary routines of her days also doubles as a snapshot of her life apart from her husband to share with him. I never cease to be amazed at how scrapbooking is so much more than photos, pretty paper and embellishments.

Read more about Van's layout here.

Angela Gutshall took her camera outside for the day and captured all the little details that make summertime glorious. She created a cool look by breaking up her photo mosaics on her page—a simple trick that resulted in a very fresh look! A great mix of vintage and modern embellishments makes her page shine.

Read more about Angela's page here.

Don't forget to check out our other Take Twelve Team layouts for June:

Lisa Ottosson

Jennie McGarvey

Aliza Deutsch

Some of our Ella Friends are playing along, too:

Audrey Neal

Bobbi Jo Grunewald

Grace Tolman

and whatever you do, do not miss this great post by Jennifer Wilson about Take Twelve. If you've been sitting on the fence about joining us, she'll definitely convince you to join in!

Congratulations to this month's lucky participant, LeAnne (#15) who will receive a spot in Nic Howard's new workshop! Here is a look at LeAnne's delightful June page:

We'll see you back here in less than a month as we kick off the second half of the 2012 Take Twelve photography challenge!

Photography Lessons Learned: Just Ask

Hi, I'm Lisa Ottosson, a member of Ella's Take Twelve team. I'm here to share a photo that represents a lesson learned from Rebecca Cooper's Don´t say Cheese eBook. She encourages asking for assistants when needed, such as when she took these baby shots. She asked the parents to stand behind her and get the sweet baby to smile, and it worked.


Learn more about Rebecca Cooper's photography books by clicking on the covers below.


alizadeutsch's picture

Photography Lesson Learned: Taking Charge

Hi, I'm Aliza Deutsch, a member of Ella's Take Twelve team, here to share a few quick photography tips. What I am learning, and what Rebecca's eBooks helped me think about, is that to get better photos, it takes some:

awareness of one's surroundings


And you know what else? You have to be able to tell people what to do; to tell them where to stand to get better light and backgrounds.


That is something I am not used to, and it dies not come naturally to me. So here, I thought beforehand about the fact that I wanted outdoor photos, and that I wanted them against this brick background, and I (kindly) made everyone go outside.


And then I just took as many shots as I could. Many where they are smiling at the camera like good little boys, but I like this one best, because it is the most authentic (you can see that the graduation boy wanted to go back to his friends) and a little silly.


Next time you are photographing a family event, take charge and plan ahead to get great shots.


Learn more about Rebecca Cooper's photography books by clicking on the covers below.


June Take Twelve: Halfway There Edition!

What? Did I just call this the "Halfway There Edition?" Don't look now, but 2013 just appeared on the horizon. Wasn't it just January? 

Speaking of January, the halfway point is a great time to take a look back at all you've accomplished so far with the Take Twelve photography challenge! Take a few minutes to reread your blog entries or scan through your Flickr photos or flip through your layouts in albums, then let it sink in what a great job you've done documenting your unique year so far. If you haven't started yet, why not jump in today? As one of my favorite quotations states, "A year from now you'll wish you had started today." [Karen Lamb] That holds true for just about anything you'd like to accomplish!

As always, it's fun to share some of the additions to our Take Twelve Project Flickr Pool on the 12th of the month. Check out this lovely layout by group member midwestgirl60:

We love how she used one of Donna Jannuzzi's sketches from the Take Twelve Guided Inspiration Kit and made it her own!

Next up, Ella Friend Audrey Neal's look at May 12:

Audrey captured a little bit of this and a little bit of that to create the perfect snapshot of the day. Don't forget to look around for faces, places, and details as you pick up your camera!

Flickr group member Karen1448 didn't have time to scrapbook her photos yet but still made sure to create a little collage with them with a few details to help spark her memory when she does get back to scrapbook:

Moral of the story: take your pictures. The rest will fall into place. How sad it would be not to have these beautiful smiles and faces and scenes captured? Every picture you take toward the goal of documenting 144 memories this year is a gift.

Are you following along with the themed projects from the Take Twelve Guided Inspiration Kit? June's project is one of my favorites: to grab your camera and take a walk around your neighborhood. Even better: invite a loved one along to walk with you. You'll definitely see some things you didn't notice before when you go out looking!

This month's prize comes to us from Big Picture Classes: a spot in Nic Howard's new workshop, Dimensional Details: The Expanded Version. This 13 week workshop has been updated with hot new techniques, step-by-step instructions and is full of gorgeous new examples, as well as including the favorites from the original class. Add all this to the lighthearted mood that Nic is well known for and this is one class that you won't want to miss. Students new to Dimensional Details, as well as those that joined Nic in 2010, will enjoy fresh new enthusiasm for the creative process and plenty of inspiration to scrap projects for months to come. One lucky Take Twelver will win a seat in this workshop valued $79!

Register and read rest of Nic's class description here; new to Big Picture Classes? Learn more here.


Ella's picture

Guess What's New?

Real.Life.Photography. little kids' photography ideas



Simple Fixes photo editing actions for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

And this.


They've been in the works for quite some time. And we're quite sure you'll love them! 

Purchase Real.Life.Photography and the Simple Fixes Action Set in the same purchase and save 20% with code PHOTOFIX. And since both are currently only $9.99 each (introductory price! regularly $12.99 each), that means you'll save a total of $9 by purchasing them together now!

Angie Lucas's picture

Scrapbooking by the Calendar

It's Tuesday, which only means one thing: we have a new episode of Books&Crafts available for your viewing pleasure!


Today, we're talking about scrapbooking inspiration you can find in the calendar, with awesome pages inspired by Elizabeth Dillow's book, The Scrapbooker's Almanac, available for sale directly from the author on her blog,


We also talk a little about a fun eBook called Creative Ideas for Events and Holidays, which you should also check out.


Make sure you watch our latest crafty episode for these ideas, plus our weekly book picks:


Wendy Smedley's picture

ABC Curio Cabinets: Fun for Any Occasion

sewing notions curio craft project

One of my favorite projects to make is a meaningful curio cabinet, like this sewing-themed one I made for my mom, featuring sewing notions for every letter of the alphabet. There's "embroidery" for E and "thread" for T and "zipper" for Z, not to mention a "measuring tape" for M.


Watch Awesome Alphabet Curios on to see more about this project and other curios, too, including an "I Spy" curio idea and a "Christmas Countdown" curio by Angie Lucas. (The below image was taken before Angie found an ice skate for "I," Santa's underwear for "U," and a sleeping reindeer for "Z." You'll see them in the video though!)

Watch the epsisode here:


And also check out our awesome book picks for the week: